Alabama basketball prepares for first exhibition against UAHBy Matthew Speakman | 11/05/2017 7:15pm
Alabama basketball’s talented freshman class will get the opportunity to play in a live game for the first time in front of the home crowd against UAH on Monday.
Collin Sexton, John Petty, Herb Jones, Alex Reese and Galin Smith made up the Crimson Tide’s top-ten recruiting class. Sexton and Petty, who were both top 30 recruits, have drawn a lot of attention to the program, with many people calling Sexton one of Alabama’s best freshman ever.
“They’re all challenging each other,” head coach Avery Johnson said. “It’s amazing to see Collin and Herb and Reese and Petty and Galin, even in the classroom, it’s amazing to see how competitive they are on and off the floor.”
Sexton and Petty have been getting most of the hype, but another freshman has Alabama excited. Herb Jones is turning heads, and Johnson has been impressed with his game. Johnson added that scouts have also been raving about his defense.
“It’s just amazing what people are saying about him defensively,” Johnson said. “He’s skilled. He can see the floor. He can shoot it. He’s very smart, and has a high basketball IQ. Great feel for the game. He’s getting better and better.”
Jones was ranked as the No. 146 player out of high school. Jones played less than 20 miles away at Hale County High school, where he earned Class 4A player of the year for the Wildcats.
Jones has already impressed many of his veteran teammates already with his lockdown defense and ability to stretch the floor.
“Herb is a baller,” forward Daniel Giddens said. “People are going to be really surprised with Herb. He is a really good player. He just oozes potential. He can play one through four. He’s that guy that every team needs.”
While the game against the Chargers will be the first official exhibition game, the Crimson Tide already has a lot of game experience during the off-season. The Crimson Tide played three games in Canada in early August and picked up two wins.
Alabama also defeated Baylor, 75-67, in a closed scrimmage on Oct. 28. Baylor has made the tournament four years in a row.
The amount of game experience the team has already has done a lot for team chemistry.
“Our whole team needed that,” Giddens said. “Just having a team that we can go against. They’re a top-ranked, a tough opponent to go against as well. Having that game right there, getting ready for the season, is really going to help us a lot.”
Throughout these scrimmages that Alabama has played, Avery Johnson has not been pleased with Alabama’s showing on defense. His son, point guard Avery Johnson Jr., said the team made strides in the team’s closed scrimmage with the Bears.
“Defense made some big leaps forward,” Avery Johnson Jr. said. “We still have a lot of things we can work on. Transition defense, with where we were in Canada and where we were in the scrimmage against Baylor, it’s a tremendous step.”
Still, even with the defensive struggles, things are looking like they are coming together for Alabama basketball. The Crimson Tide is ranked in the top 25 in numerous polls. The hype around Alabama basketball can be felt.
Avery Johnson is excited about the recognition his program is getting, but still wants his team to make strides this season.
“Obviously, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish,” Avery Johnson said. “But when our team is being recognized in certain polls as being 25th or 26th in the country, that’s a big step for us. Obviously, we don't talk about it. It’s something that’s out there. We feel with the way that we have recruited and the way we’ve worked, we just want to be able to earn our way.”